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Climate Change Expert Shares Her Thoughts about CA Prop 16

March 17th, 2010 by Erinn Andrews Leave a reply »

We recently released the results of a mini-research effort trying to identify great Haiti nonprofits for donors to support in the disaster relief efforts. While we couldn’t conduct our usual methodology for this work, we think it is a great example of the value that experts can bring to donors and the public generally. There are many well-informed professionals doing great work who have in-depth knowledge and understanding about the most important issues in their field, as well as which nonprofits are most effective at addressing those issues.

To further highlight the value of experts, we would like to introduce, Ann Hancock, Executive Director of the Climate Protection Campaign, and Philanthropedia Bay Area climate change expert. While not specifically recommending a nonprofit through her guest blog, Ann does have a valuable perspective to offer on a timely and urgent issue facing the colleagues in her sector and the individual citizens who would be affected by these changes.

What do you think? Please share your reactions and what you’ve been learning about this Proposition. We invite your feedback and comments.

Help Stop PG&E’s Power Grab!

–Ann Hancock, Climate Protection Campaign

“There are two models for customer retention. The first model is to maintain customers by offering them the best service with the lowest prices and good customer care. That’s the preferred method. The other method is customer retention through captivity by locking in higher rates and buying a constitutional amendment. That’s PG&E’s method.”

— Mark Toney, The Utility Reform Network

Proposition 16, funded entirely by PG&E, will be on the June 2010 ballot. It is the worst special kind of special interest ballot initiative, paid for by a single corporation to benefit a single corporation.  Prop 16 would lock PG&E’s high rates into the California Constitution by locking out community choice and public power. Prop 16 replaces the current process that allows communities to choose non-profit utilities with a process that would require a super-majority for any choice other than PG&E.

The passage of Prop 16 would effectively eliminate localgovernments from establishing nonprofit Community Choice Aggregations, one of the most powerful options for financing community-scale renewable energy, reducing GHG emissions, and moving towards local energy independence. For example, Marin County awarded their CCA contract to Shell Energy North America, which agreed to double the amount of renewable energy while meeting or beating PG&E’s rates. Meanwhile, PG&E has proposed $5 billion in rate hikes.

Rather than keep their customers by providing excellent service at reasonable rates, PG&E has pledged to spend at least $35 million to protect their monopoly.

Proposition 16 “is a dagger aimed directly at a movement to enable municipalities to offer renewable green power to their residents in competition with private utilities.”

— Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

Though opponents of the measure will never match this level of funding, there are several indicators of a growing opposition, including the following:

  • Nine state Senators, including the Pro Tem, have sent a letter to PG&E expressing their strong opposition.
  • Most media coverage to date has reflected poorly on PG&E.
  • Official opposition is growing among many California cities, counties and organizations such as the California Municipal Utilities Association, the California League of Cities, the California Realtors Association, the League of Women Voters, and the Sierra Club.

“To use the initiative process to pursue PG&E’s self-interests calls into question your company’s integrity.”

— Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and eight other state Senators, in a letter to PG&E’s CEO Peter Darbee

A campaign has been established, coordinated by Kaufman Consulting in Sacramento. In addition, a strong core of volunteer activists from the Bay Area are conducting grassroots outreach and education. A PAC (Political Action Committee) has been set up, Taxpayers Against the PG&E Powergrab (FPPC# 1321957).

Defeating this initiative will require only modest funding. Contributions can be made to either the PAC (not tax deductable) or to various non-profit 501(c)3 organizations involved in the campaign.

To help defeat this Proposition by making a contribution, please contact Renata Brillinger, Climate Protection Campaign:

(707) 823-8278

Thank you for your support and we hope you will take action to defeat this initiative.

–Ann Hancock

For additional information about Prop 16 and other perspectives, you can check out:

You can read more about Philanthropedia’s national climate change experts here and see which nonprofits they recommended here. The Bay Area climate change research results will be available in a few weeks.


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